Yesterday I walked on my treadmill because it was raining. My husband set me up with his walking workout which, for me, turned out to be more of a run. I found this very unpleasant, but at least I got a quick mile logged.
I watched the show “Never Have I Ever” and one of the main storylines involved the teenaged main character questioning herself after her friends and family repeatedly call her crazy.
It’s a word I think about a lot.
It’s thrown around so much, sometimes with very little intention behind it, and sometimes with pure vitriol.
What does it mean to be crazy?
It’s definitely something I’ve been called a lot in my life. Even before I actually lost my mind. I was always a bit hyperactive, a bit unorthodox in my sense of humor, a bit obsessive about things or ideas or people.
But it was generally said in an endearing way.
Even now, I can’t say I’m offended when someone uses the term. There’s sometimes just no better way to describe it.
In the ward, for example, we were all crazy, just in different ways. There were those of us that could pass as not crazy on the street (generally those with severe depression or anxiety) and there were those of us that you could spot as crazy from a mile away (generally those of us with psychosis).
My first roommate in my first stay in the ward was someone who could very much pass as not crazy. We met briefly when she arrived, but she soon had to leave to do an intake session. I went to sit down on my bed and was elated to notice a brown paper bag on the chair nearby. I had heard about these brown paper bags- they were what your stuff from home came in. I was thrilled because I’d been there for so long (I thought) and hadn’t yet gotten anything from home.
I eagerly began to pull things out of the bag, to see what my husband had sent me. The first item was a New York Knicks sweatshirt. If I’d been in my right mind this would have made it immediately obvious that this was not for me: neither myself nor Matt had any remote interest in sports, broadly, or the Knicks, specifically. But in my connection-addicted mind I assumed that it was a reference to Friends, my favorite TV show from childhood, where the characters loved the Knicks. There were also some sweatpants, some bras, and a toothbrush. I was so excited to have some new comfy clothes to relax in besides my scrubs and the sweats I arrived in. I eagerly pulled on the clothes, only to discover that they were entirely too small. In my right mind I would have taken them off. But as it was, my mind drifted back to another memory.
Matt and I had been very close friends before we started dating. We are always asked who liked who first. People want the filmic story where one of us had been pining after the other for years and couldn’t get up the nerve to say anything. In reality, neither of us fell in love, exactly, but mutually grew into it instead. Still, from time to time we liked to point out signs and symptoms that revealed that one of us had been harboring unconscious feelings before we started dating.
For me, one of those signs was India. Matt had gone there for a two-week music study course about three months before we started dating. While there, he thought that I would look really nice in the kurtas that the women wore there. He bought me an elegant mottled one in a dusty blue: my favorite color. I was so flattered that he’d thought to get me such a nice gift… and then I tried it on. I wanted to be able to make it work, but it was comically small on me, and I ended up giving it away to a friend. Looking back now, I like to tell myself that he saw me through rose-colored glasses and thought I was much smaller and daintier than I really was. I took both his thoughtfulness in selecting a gift for me and the generosity of his estimation skills to be signs of his love for me.
And so when I pulled on those small sweatpants, I was transported back to a time, in college, when a boy who was now my husband thought only the very best of me. I assumed he had done it again to express how much nothing had changed, despite the circumstances. He still cared. I was, therefore, walking on air as I headed out of my room in my new sweats (and new bra).
There was only one meeting room in the main area of the ward. It was in the middle of the common area, and it was set up like a fishbowl, with windows on all sides. This was where my new roommate was in a meeting with her social worker, when I arrived in the common area wearing my new clothes.
In my mania, I spent a lot of time asserting that I was an empath, and could tell what people were feeling just by looking at them. And so with all my empath powers, I noticed that for some reason my new roommate looked sad. And quite worried. And so I did what any good roommate would do to cheer her up: I started to dance. While making eye contact with her. And wearing all of her clothes.
Later that night I was told that my room assignment had been changed due to a logistical issue. I had apologized profusely to her once I figured out what had happened, and she insisted that everything was fine, but I still felt terrible. I even asked one of the nurses to open the laundry room so I could wash the clothes myself (a task I did not successfully complete). In the end, when my meds kicked in, we ended up being friends and I got her to admit that she asked to switch rooms. She felt badly about it, but I told her that I would have done the exact same thing.
Which is to say that crazy people can freak out other crazy people.
Which is to say that crazy can be funny, even when it is deeply serious.
Which is to say that crazy is a label I have earned, and I wear it like a badge of honor.
Thanks for reading,
74 miles down, 26 miles to go